Your name is not set in stone. At some point in your life, you may want to change it legally. If you do so, you’ll have to fill out some paperwork and pay a fee. How much it costs depends on where you live. Below, we’ll answer common questions and provide some tips to make the process a bit easier.
How Much Does a Legal Name Change Cost?
You may face a number of fees if you decide to change your name, and those fees will vary depending upon the state or county you’re in. You may find that your fees are higher or lower than they are for a friend who is doing the same in a neighboring state.
Chances are, however, you’ll pay anywhere from around $50 to possibly upwards of $500 to change your name. You may have to pay some common fees for the following purposes:
- Court filing
- Certified copy
- Newspaper notice
- Attorney or online service preparation
- Birth certificate name change
The name-change process varies drastically between states.
The Cost of a Social Security Name Change
You won’t be charged to change your name with the Social Security Administration if you got married or divorced, were involved in a court order, or decided to for any other reason. All you have to do is fill out the Application for a Social Security Card form that you can get online or at your local Social Security office.
The form will ask you to state your current name as well as your full name at birth and any other names you’ve had in the past. Once you complete the form, you may submit it in one of two ways. You may mail it to the Social Security Administration or bring the form to a Social Security office along with your driver’s license, passport, or another accepted government-issued photo ID that proves your identity.
In addition to the form and your ID, you’ll need to provide original copies of documents that show your new name. These may include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, certificate of U.S. naturalization, or court order that grants your name change.
After the Social Security Administration receives everything it needs from you, you’ll receive a Social Security Card with your new name for free.
Legal Name-Change Costs by State
As stated, the cost to change your name depends on where you live. The reason you want to change your name may affect the process you must go through. Changing your name in California because you got married, for example, will be much simpler than changing your name there after a divorce or gender change.
If you live in Hawaii, you won’t have to go through a name change if you got married in the state and your marriage certificate states you’ll take your spouse’s name. You can also forgo the process if you’re divorced and your divorce decree mentions you’ll go back to your maiden name or another name you had.
In California, you’ll likely pay $435 to change your name. If you live in Hawaii, on the other hand, you can get this done for only $55.
Tips for Navigating the Name-Change Process
Fortunately, you may be able to change your name with little hassle and limited expense. Use these tips to save time, money, and headaches when pursuing a name change.
Consider a Name-Change Service
If you lead a busy life and don’t have time to go through the name-change process on your own, you may want to explore a paid name-change service such as:
- HitchSwitch: HitchSwitch’s services may make sense if you recently got married and want to change your name.
- MissNowMrs: MissNowMrs is similar to HitchSwitch and can be an option if you’re a newlywed who would like some help with your name change.
Apply for a Court Filing Fee Waiver
If you can’t afford to pay a court filing fee to change your name, you may qualify for a fee waiver. Also known as In Forma Pauperis, you can request this waiver from the court. In most cases, it only will be granted if you meet one of these conditions:
- You’re eligible for government assistance.
- Your household income is 125% or less than the poverty level set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- You can prove that you do not have enough money to cover the filing fee.
If you have a trust, will, or any other legal documents, you’ll want to ensure that they’re updated to include your new name.
Notify the Appropriate Parties
Once you change your name, there are certain parties you’ll want to notify as soon as possible. First and most importantly, inform the Social Security Administration and get a Social Security card with your new name. You may also want to tell your bank or any other financial institutions you use, as well as your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
In addition, report your name change to:
- The IRS
- Voter registration
- Your employer
- Your insurance companies
- Your doctors
- Your landlord or mortgage company
- Your utility companies